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Infections and Wegener's granulomatosis--a cause and effect relationship?

J George, Y Levy, C G Kallenberg, Y Shoenfeld
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/qjmed/90.5.367 367-373 First published online: 1 May 1997


The association of infections and autoimmune disease has been noted by various authors. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain this, with no current consensus. Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) is an autoimmune disease involving predominantly the pulmonary and renal systems, and is associated with a distinct autoantibody-the anti neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA). Although no solid evidence implicates infections in the emergence of WG, direct and circumstantial data suggest this relation. We review this evidence and discuss possible underlying mechanisms. We emphasize the relationship between infections and ANCA, and their role in the maintenance of the 'on-going' inflammatory response.